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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Chatter: March 31

(Not) Your mom’s political issues

With the Cold War a good distance behind the United States and Russia, an agreement on the reduction of nuclear weapons was the appropriate next step. According to The New York Times, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev agreed on a strategic move that replaces the somewhat archaic Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Perhaps the feat could be attributed to Obama for his intent on doing what his predecessor called a Cold War relic, but that is hardly the question. The new agreement deals with only modest cuts in both countries’ arsenals — nonetheless, both presidents have taken not only their nations’ safety into consideration, but also the nuclear control around the world.

We believe that with this move, the two biggest nuclear players in international politics are setting a precedent for nations around the world to follow. Although the new agreement only moderately addresses nuclear weapons, it may exert Proliferation Treaty review conference in May. This strategic move should not end here.

Along with this almost preliminary move should come deeper negotiations between Russia and the U.S. on how nuclear proliferation can be limited — with regard to deployed weapons or the thousands of smaller bombs that can more easily be smuggled. We hope this happens sooner rather than later.

It only makes sense for the two biggest nuclear powers to make this move with their combined number of nuclear weapons at around 20,000. The treaty itself will be signed on April 8 in Prague and according to The New York Times, calls for both nations to reduce the number of deployed strategic weapons to 1,550 from 2,200 within seven years. Bombers, missiles and submarines would have to be lowered to 800 from 1,600 each.

The problem with this or following nuclear proliferation conferences is the sluggish set of actions. Despite everyone’s hopeful support for a more major cut in nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles, international distrust and order of events will slow the process down. Winning the support of both parties within the U.S. Congress would serve a great deal of support, yet the agreement on part of Russia will remain slow. We must simply encourage this weakening of nuclear strength, along with the rest of the world, in order to create international relations less dependent of mutual assured destruction. Ratification in Senate requires a two-third vote of approval, and despite today’s partisan malice, we must think of the bigger picture.

“”US and Russia act in favor of safety,”” The Rutgers Daily Targum

Editorial Board, March 29

Climate next hot issue for Congress

With the passage of the health care reform bill last week and today’s signing of a student loan bill that will remove commercial banks from the student loan market, President Barack Obama has a lot to celebrate. With these recent successes, Obama is making some of his campaign promises real, and it is clear that his administration is able to pass sweeping reform bills through the current Congress.

While these recent accomplishments are laudable, it is now time to look ahead to another issue that has not yet been adequately addressed by the current administration: climate change. Obama needs to work with lawmakers to use the momentum of the recent successes in Washington to pass a bill that will secure America’s energy independence, create jobs and reduce emissions and pollution that are irreparably damaging the global environment. Obama made campaign pledges to address climate change, and the promises could become reality if the Senate makes it a priority to draft a new climate change bill.

Congressional midterm elections are coming up, and given the Republican outrage at the health care bill and the stimulus package, many predict that Democrats will lose seats to Republicans in November. With the prospect of losing a Democratic majority in Congress and the imminent transitional period that will occur following elections, it is clear that now is the time to act if a successful bill is going to be drafted.

However, energy and climate change legislation does not have to be a partisan issue. Currently, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is working with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on a bill to improve upon the messy cap-and-trade plan that narrowly passed the House in June. Graham, a Republican, is leading a movement in his party that recognizes that carbon emissions cannot continue unchecked indefinitely. Moving away from foreign oil, reducing pollution and creating green jobs are priorities on which senators from both sides should be able to agree.

Another bipartisan pair of senators is working on an alternative proposal that also diverges from the cap-and-trade structure, which has been derided by critics in Washington. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) plan to auction licenses to producers of pollutants and return the revenues to consumers. This system with large tax rebates for the public is what Obama envisions for climate change legislation, and the senators have received the president’s approval for their plan.

The House struggled to pass its climate change legislation in June, and there were many strong critics who would threaten the Senate bill as well. However, the plans under construction in the Senate are nothing like the “”cap-and-tax”” systems of the House bill. Bipartisan partnerships are on the road to creating responsible legislation that reduces carbon emissions and spurs economic growth.

In the wake of successful health care and student loan reform, proposing and passing successful climate change legislation needs to be the next top priority of both the Senate and the president. The voices of oil and coal lobbyists cannot continue to override the growing need for energy independence and green jobs. Senators from both parties need to recognize that this legislation is exactly what the American economy and the global environment need, and legislators need to act soon to make good on the political momentum in Washington while it lasts.

“”Climate change legislation should be next on agenda,”” The Tufts Daily Editorial Board, March 30

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